Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ripen like a tree

Ever since fall started settling in, I’ve been anticipating something. I’m not sleeping properly. Not eating properly. I can’t focus on normal, everyday things. I’m both yearning for and fearing the future. It’s a bizarre place to be in, like I’m walking on an edge, darting in and out of the world.

Then today, a friend recommended I read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. I found this in letter #3:

In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!

Be patient. Ripen like a tree. Summer does come.

I needed to hear that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Swoon

I just purchased this print from this shop.
It's inspired by The Taming of the Shrew.
I can't stop staring at it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On Starting and Finishing

It is a well known fact that I am excellent at starting things and not so excellent at finishing them. When I took a Myers Briggs test five years ago and it declared me to be an INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeler, perceiver) I fully claimed this identity. I basically stamped the letters INFP onto my forehead. “I start things and I don’t finish them!” - was my mantra. I think I did this because I was noticing a tendency in my life to fail. I failed to pass my classes because I didn’t try to. I failed to finish post-secondary programs because I lost interest in them. I was always quitting jobs that I had once been convinced were right for me. Deep down inside, I was afraid – no, terrified – that there was something seriously wrong with me. Why did I find it so easy to start things, and so hard to finish them? Myers Briggs gave me a label that I could hide behind.

Everything changed this year. After yet another failure (quitting my program at school last fall) I started writing again. Writing stories. Something I hadn’t done since before going to university. I started writing and I didn’t stop. I started a novel. Then I middled it. And then… I finished it. I finished a whole novel! When I realized this, I had to take a step back. Me, an INFP, perpetual starter and never finisher… finished a novel? What in the world was going on?

I think I’ve figured it out. I think that maybe my reasons for always starting things and never finishing them was because I was starting the wrong things. It was like I had writer’s block - but in everyday life. And the solution to writer’s block is to always go back. Go back to a part in the story that was working. And then re-write from there.

So that’s what I did. I went back to the thing that used to work: storytelling. And now I’m re-writing my life. I’m re-writing the part where I decided I’m a failure and claimed an identity that wasn’t quite true. Yes, I am excellent at starting things. But now I can also say with pride that I finish things too. Or at least, I finished one thing.

I’m holding on to that.